Man’s Favorite Tool

Reason has always been one of man’s greatest tools. With the long march of modernity from the Enlightenment to the 21st century logic and science has firmly established the mechanical and mathematical nature of matter and the objective world. With this knowledge the engineers have dazzled us for over a century with their mechanical and electronic wizardry, from trains and automobiles to computers and the internet.

Like any tool, however, reason and math can be used for both good or evil ends depending on the intention of its user. It could be used, for example, to produce vaccinations against deadly diseases and enhance creativity with computer software, or alternatively industrialize the workplace to maximize profits for a few, and devise more efficient ways of killing people, such as concentration camps and smart bombs. Indeed, computers are an extension of man’s reason, and can perform algorithmic tasks determined by the left hemisphere, and represent man’s latest and greatest tool, but also carry the danger of misuse. 

Staying exclusively in the left hemisphere world can lead to problems however. It is logic and reason that idealizes with its images of perfection, and while this improves things sometimes, it can also lead to dissatisfaction with the real, and purging of all that is deemed as an imperfection. In a strictly logical approach there can also be sleights of hand that draw logical, but misleading, conclusions such as post-structuralism and arguments for atheism. Furthermore, the left hemisphere’s desire to categorize with binary classifications can lead to the dismissal and stereotyping of people and things by not accommodating their inherent complexity.

The solution is to ground out our logic with the right hemisphere, which appreciates things as a whole, and can contain dualities and complexities missed by a strictly left hemisphere approach. This is avoided by many people, however, because unlike the left brain, the right cannot be wielded like a tool by the ego, and presents what it wants, when it wants, much like our senses. Indeed, patience and acceptance are needed to reap the right brain’s benefits, including acknowledging that even our own minds are not completely under our control. The mystery religions of the past and Zen Buddhism stress the importance of having such an experience that transcends  reason and leads to wisdom and a better appreciation of reality.

Review of Crime of Passion

The latest album from Canadian singer/songwriter Paul Kloschinsky, Crime of Passion, continues burnishing his reputation as one of the finest singer/songwriter talents working in today’s indie scene. He’s a poet and recognized photographer who brings both a literary and cinematic aspect to the songwriting that’s welcome and artfully included. Kloschinsky sports a number of influences, but they are clearly filtered through his own personality; he has a traditional aura, but there’s a thoroughly modern slant to his writing that never leaves his music spinning in some sort of cultural backwater. Crime of Passion is an eight song release with a number of tracks demonstrating his willingness to stretch out both as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist. There’s excellent balance on the album, however, and a number of the songs are focused and aim at appealing to the broadest of all possible audiences.

he jangling acoustic churn of “I’m Still Waiting” doggedly embodies the same wanting Kloschinsky depicts in the lyrics. There’s a slightly ominous edge to the guitar figure, but it’s nothing that Kloschinsky pushes too hard on the audience and his facility with the instrument is obvious. There are some light string touches and stripped back drumming further fleshing things out, but the center of the song is his voice, tempered with some echo, but still every bit as hard charging as the arrangement. The title song takes a much more gradual pace and trods, perhaps, more familiar lyrical ground than the opener but it’s still a finely tuned track that makes great use of its language and strikes just the right musical note. “I Believe” has an exuberant pop bounce with some understated horns and lyrical content that, despite being constructed around a central phrase, branches off into a number of interesting directions.

The album’s second longest song “House Up on the Hill” is, arguably, Kloschinsky’s finest moment on Crime of Passion. The meandering near-country folk vibe is joined by a recurring woodwind touch bringing an added lonesome quality to the song that makes for a good match with Kloschinsky’s voice. The narrative qualities of the lyric are quite strong. “A Poignant Point in Time” seems to share many similarities with earlier songs, but there’s a surprising rock spirit discerning listeners might hear lurking just beneath the vocal. It’s also the album’s shortest track yet sounds complete and remarkably fuller than its sub three minute running time might indicate. The finale “Gates of Heaven” runs a little longer than the aforementioned “House Up on the Hill”. It begins with an ornate but evocation organ introduction before segueing into another striking Kloschinsky guitar figure. It has a steady mid tempo pace and some sharply observed lyrics that explicate as much as they obscure. It is an truly impressive and weighty curtain for Paul Kloschinsky’s finest song collection yet. It has a decidedly low key, restrained vibe – but bristles with intelligence and musicality impossible to deny. Crime of Passion will draw in anyone who appreciates sharp and thoughtful artistry.


Jason Hillenburg